“I was a food tour guide – I took people on a tour to different restaurants in the area.”

Kelly Marie Tran, Actress

Pros and Cons of Working as a Tour Guide

advantages and disadvantages of being a tour guide

You think about becoming a tour guide? While working as a tour guide can be great, there are still some issues related to this career path.

Thus, make sure to check out all the pros and cons of being a tour guide in this article. After evaluating all the arguments, you may change your mind and go for a different job instead.

Tour Guide Job Profile

Job DescriptionTour guides show people sights and secret places of cities. They are responsible to provide their clients with the best possible experience while assuring the safety of people at all times.
Salary$38,000 per year on average, most tour guides make between $25,000 – $55,000 per year.
Job SecurityLow job security since tour guides are replaceable.
Job SatisfactionGood if you are an extroverted person who loves to talk to people.
Work-Life BalancePoor work-life balance since you often have to work on weekends.
Physically / Mentally Demanding?Neither mentally nor physically demanding most of the time.
Future OutlookRather poor since many people want to work in this field and the tour guide industry is quite competitive.
RequirementsNo special educational requirements.

Advantages of Being a Tour Guide

  1. You can work with many different people
  2. Tour guides can learn new languages
  3. Tour guides can work in many different locations
  4. You may be able to travel the world
  5. You can get to know every detail of your city
  6. Tour guides don’t have to work in classical office jobs
  7. Working as a tour guide can be interesting
  8. Being a tour guide is not that stressful
  9. You can improve your people skills
  10. You can get out of your comfort zone
  11. Tour guides learn how to lead people
  12. You don’t need extensive education
  13. Tour guides get paid for what other people pay for
  14. Good job if you are a rather extroverted person

You can work with many different people

One advantage of being a tour guide is that you can get to know many different people. This can be pretty interesting, especially if you have an international audience and can talk to many people from all over the world.

Not only will this give you the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective and to hear many different opinions about politics and about what’s going on in the world right now, it also gives you the chance to make many new friendships over time.

In fact, it is pretty easy to stay in touch over social media thanks to our modern technology and you can easily stay connected with the clients you liked most. Who knows, maybe you’ll visit them in their home countries one day?!

Having those contacts always helps since you only get to know the real experience on your travels if you know locals in foreign countries and can rely on their expertise.

Tour guides can learn new languages

Since you will meet so many different people from all over the world during your career as a tour guide, you will also be able to learn new languages in a pretty natural manner. Sure, chances are that your grammar and your pronunciation will not be perfect.

Yet, you will still learn some new words and even this limited knowledge can greatly help you out during your travels since locals will be pretty impressed, especially if you learn some words in a pretty exotic language that almost no tourist speaks at all.

Tour guides can work in many different locations

As a tour guide, you can also work in many different locations. While you might start your tour guide career in your home town, you could also work in many different locations across the country or even work in foreign countries all over the world.

If you are really good at what you are doing and are also able to speak English fluently, you will be able to work in almost every country of our planet as a tour guide.

You may be able to travel the world

In fact, many people decided to quit their office jobs and to travel the world. Many of them now work as tour guides to earn some money while they are able to see many beautiful places and make unique experiences.

This can be pretty nice, especially in case you are still young and don’t have a family yet since you will be free to make your own decisions without having to care about any other opinion than your own.

You can get to know every detail of your city

Another upside to being a tour guide is that you can learn a lot about your own city. Even though you might have lived in your home town for your entire life, I bet there are still many places you haven’t seen yet. In fact, many people just stay in certain favorite places in their city, yet they don’t know that there is so much more to experience.

As a tour guide, you will get to know almost every spot of your city since you will always have to provide new experiences for your clients to stay competitive in the long run.

Due to that, you will really get to know every secret spot and this can make your life much better since you will find many new places to spend your time in.

Tour guides don’t have to work in classical office jobs

By working as a tour guide, you can also avoid working in front of a computer screen all day long. Even though some people like working in classical office jobs, many people just don’t like the office world at all.

Hence, if you are the type of person who rather wants to do some exercising during work and doesn’t want to sit on an office chair all day long, working as a tour guide can be much more suitable for you compared to working the classical corporate world.

Working as a tour guide can be interesting

Another benefit of working as a tour guide is that you can experience so many new things every day. In fact, no day will look the same and you will often also have to change plans in a rather spontaneous manner. While this might be annoying to some people, others love this kind of uncertainty.

Being a tour guide is not that stressful

Your life as a tour guide will also not be that stressful. Yes, you will sometimes have to deal with difficult clients and some days will just not work out as you want them to be, yet there are many other jobs out there which are far more demanding on both a mental as well as on a physical level. As a tour guide, you will not have that much time pressure.

You also don’t have a boss who watches you all day long. Instead, you can just work rather independently as long as you are good at what you are doing and your clients are happy with your work.

You can improve your people skills

As a tour guide, you will also be able to greatly improve your soft skills. Since you will deal with many different people every day of your tour guide career, you will soon figure out how to motivate people and what really drives them.

This is quite important, not only for your life as a tour guide but also on many other occasions of your private life since only if you understand the nature of people, you will be able to push them in certain directions to make your life easier.

Consequently, working as a tour guide also gives you the great chance to really understand human psychology and what happens on a subconscious level.

You can get out of your comfort zone

While many people don’t like getting out of their comfort zones, this can be really beneficial for them since only if you get out of your daily routine, you will be able to really learn new things. In fact, we as humans learn the most when we do things we have never done before. Even if we fail, we still get plenty of experience out of it.

Through your job as a tour guide, you will experience some failures and you will sometimes also feel uncomfortable, especially when clients are not happy with your work.

However, instead of seeing only the negative, you can also learn a lot from those experiences and can really grow as a character who learns to deal with adversity.

Tour guides learn how to lead people

As a tour guide, you will also be responsible to lead people. While many tour guides are not born with characteristics of a leader, they soon develop those character traits. In fact, many tour guides start out as rather shy persons.

However, after a while, they realize that there is nothing to be fearful of and that having a leading role can be quite a lot of fun if you know how to handle all of the things that come along with it.

If you learn how to become a true leader, you will have many advantages, not only in your professional but also in your private life and working as a tour guide can really get you to the next level in this regard.

You don’t need extensive education

You also don’t have to get fancy education or even a college degree for becoming a tour guide. In most states, it will be enough to finish high school and you are good to go. For being a good tour guide, it is much more important that you are really passionate about what you are doing since your clients will feel this and your tour will also be much more authentic.

In fact, most people would rather book a tour guide who hasn’t even finished school but is really passionate about his job compared to someone who has a doctor’s degree but just does not have any drive for what he’s doing. Therefore, you can avoid spending many years of your life in college to get a fancy degree.

You can also avoid student loan debt that often comes along with college education. Instead, you can even earn money right after finishing high school and this can give you the opportunity to become independent of your parents pretty soon in your life.

Tour guides get paid for what other people pay for

Through your career as a tour guide, you will also be able to see many nice places. In fact, you can work in locations and make trips for which other people often have to spend plenty of money. Not only will you be able to see all those nice places for free, but you will actually even get paid for it.

Hence, becoming a tour guide can be great for you if you have a natural interest in seeing many different places since you can follow your passion and can earn money from it at the same time.

Good job if you are a rather extroverted person

Especially if you are the type of extroverted person who loves to talk to people all day long, working as a tour guide can be great for you since you will just meet so many new people and can share your ideas and opinions about many different things with others and you may also learn a lot from those conversations.

While you might think that working as a tour guide is a dream job due to all the advantages that come along with it, there are still some downsides related to this career path which are discussed in the following.

Disadvantages of Being a Tour Guide

  1. Tour guides often have to work on weekends
  2. Your schedule can change without prior notice
  3. You don’t make much money as a tour guide
  4. Many tour guides need a second job to survive
  5. Short-term contracts are pretty common
  6. Seasonality plays a big role in the life of tour guides
  7. Old-age poverty is quite common
  8. Bad weather can be a problem
  9. Rather poor job security
  10. Limited promotion opportunities
  11. Tour guides have to deal with difficult people
  12. Being a tour guide may become boring in the long run
  13. You can’t work from home as a tour guide
  14. Difficult if you have children
  15. Rather low social standing
  16. Tour guides have a hard time switching fields

Tour guides often have to work on weekends

One disadvantage of being a tour guide is that you often have to work on weekends. This means that you will just not be able to make nice weekend trips with your family.

Instead, you will just have to work while many other people out there enjoy their leisure and this can be really frustrating, especially if you see their nice pictures on social media.

Your schedule can change without prior notice

You also have to be pretty spontaneous as a tour guide. Schedules may change unexpectedly since your clients might be late and you may have to work many extra hours due to that.

In fact, many tour guides work extra hours for what they don’t even get paid for and this can be extremely unsatisfying, especially if you really put in the effort and work hard to provide the best experience possible for your clients.

You don’t make much money as a tour guide

Another downside of working as a tour guide is that you will just not make that much money. In fact, many tour guides struggle to pay their bills, especially those who live in rather expensive metropolitan areas since rents are often far too high to be affordable for tour guides. Thus, be prepared that you will just not be able to afford any luxury as a tour guide.

Many tour guides need a second job to survive

In extreme cases, tour guides may even need a second job to cover their basic expenses. This is especially true in regions where living costs are quite high and the average income is far above the income of most tour guides.

Hence, be prepared that working as a tour guide may not be enough to stay out of debt, especially if you live in one of those fancy neighborhoods and that you are willing to work in a second job to pay your bills.

Short-term contracts are pretty common

Many tour guides also only have short-term contracts with travel companies. In fact, it is hard to forecast how many tour guides will be needed in the future and you may just get laid off in case you are no longer needed. Your contract may also just expire and may just not get renewed.

Seasonality plays a big role in the life of tour guides

Working as a tour guide is also often pretty seasonal. Especially if you work in a field where you offer summer activities, you will be basically unemployed in winter since you will just not find any clients who want to book your activities during this time of the year.

Thus, try to find an evergreen niche where you can offer activities all year long if you really want to work as a full-time tour guide for an extended period of time.

Old-age poverty is quite common

Due to the rather low salaries of tour guides, you will also not be able to save enough money for your retirement. Consequently, many tour guides suffer from old-age poverty and may even end up homeless once they retire since they may simply no longer be able to pay their rent.

Bad weather can be a problem

As a tour guide, you will also often have to work outdoors. This means that you will often be exposed to rather bad weather like rain or snow and you will just not have the same comfort level as someone who just works in a cozy office and does not have to worry about outside conditions that much.

Rather poor job security

You can also never be certain that you will keep your job for an extended period of time. In fact, tour guides are pretty replaceable and if you are not exceptionally good at what you are doing, chances are that you will just get fired sooner or later and may struggle to find a different job that pays enough to cover your basic expenses.

Limited promotion opportunities

Another problem with being a tour guide is that you will also have rather limited promotion opportunities. Even if you do your job pretty well and your clients are happy with your work, you will still not get promoted and will do almost the same work after a decade like someone who just starts out with his career as a tour guide.

Tour guides have to deal with difficult people

While many clients will be nice and you will really enjoy working with them, a minority of people is just difficult and always find reasons to complain about.

Hence, make sure that you are also willing to deal with those difficult people and that you have a stable mindset so that their comments just don’t bother you.

Being a tour guide may become boring in the long run

While working as a tour guide can be exciting at first, this excitement can quickly vanish. In fact, many tour guides get bored with what they are doing sooner or later and secretly wish they had learned something different.

Thus, make sure that you are really passionate about working as a tour guide before deciding for this career path.

You can’t work from home as a tour guide

While many people who work in classical office jobs for big corporations will have the option to work from home, you will just not have this luxury since you will be present at a specific location to do your tours. In turn, you will be less flexible to manage your private life since you can’t work location-independently.

Difficult if you have children

In general, being a tour guide is not the best job option in case you have children. Not only will you make rather poor money, but you will also have to work on weekends pretty often and will just not have time to spend enough leisure with your kids.

Rather low social standing

Tour guides are also not that appreciated by the general public. Sure, it is ok to be a tour guide. Yet, you will not be admired the same way as doctors since you will just not save the lives of many people.

Tour guides have a hard time switching fields

It is also not easy for tour guides to switch fields. Since tour guides often don’t have high levels of education in different fields, they often get stuck in their jobs.

Therefore, make sure that a career as a tour guide is really what you want to do long-term so that you can avoid any problems in this regard in the future.

Top 10 Being a Tour Guide Pros & Cons – Summary List

Being a Tour Guide ProsBeing a Tour Guide Cons
Tour guides can talk to many peopleTour guides don’t make much money
Being a tour guide can be excitingYou have to work on weekends
Tour guides have a rather relaxed lifeBeing a tour guide may become boring
You can get to know your cityYou have to be flexible as a tour guide
You can work in many different locationsYour schedule may change pretty often
Tour guides can travel the worldRather low social standing
No fancy education requiredSome tour guides even need a second job
You are forced out of your comfort zoneRather limited promotion opportunities
Tour guides learn how to lead peopleOld-age poverty is a problem
You can improve your people skillsDifficult if you have children

Should You Become A Tour Guide?

Now that I have shown you all the advantages and disadvantages of being a tour guide, you should evaluate all the pros and cons of working as a tour guide to make a profound decision in this regard.

If you come to the conclusion that a career as a tour guide is not for you, don’t be discouraged. There are many other job options out there that you can choose from instead.

Also make sure to check out the following articles:

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a fundraiser

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a comedian

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_guide

https://www.statista.com/statistics/917089/number-of-tour-and-travel-guides-us/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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